In these times when most people have smart phones armed with 4G technology, e-service will be an effective and viable option.
SERVICE OF SUMMONS THROUGH WATSAPP/OTHER ELECTRONIC MEANS: JUSTIFIED.
“….. that our rules and procedures are either so ancient or so rigid (or both) that without some antiquated formal service mode through a bailiff or even by beat of drum or paattki, a party cannot be said to have been ‘properly’ served. The purpose of service is put the other party to notice and to give him a copy of the papers” Justice Patel remarked.
” …by sending a PDF and message to [defendants ] mobile number as a WhatsApp message. For the purpose of service of Notice under Order XXI Rule 22, I will accept this. I do so because the icon indicators clearly show that not only was the message and its attachment delivered to the Respondents number but that both were opened”
“perused the Chamber Order and the Affidavit filed in support thereto. For the reasons set out thereinMs.LavinaKripalani is discharged from appearing as the Advocate of the plaintiff in Admirality Suit No.44 of 2010. A copy of this order shall be forthwith served on the plaintiff by the Advocate for the Plaintiff who is just discharged, by email and /or speed post and / or Whatsapp”
“thus in Sub rule (i) and (ii), the substituted service means fixing the copies of the summons on different place as mentioned in the Rule. However, the sub- rule (iii) gives further option that the summons can be served in such other manner as the court thinks fit. Thus, the manner which the courts opts for should be akin to the earlier mode of service, which is mentioned in the Rule. For this , the court can take into account the modern ways of service which are available due to internet connection. It can be served also by courier or by email or by whatsapp etc.”, Justice Bhatkar observed.
THE QUESTION OF CONVENIENCE
The practice of serving summons abreast with technological advancement is a big answer to the question of convenience. In Kross Television India Pvt Ltd, it was observed:
” [defendants] believe they can resort to these tactics to avoid service, they are wrong. They may succeed in avoiding a bailiff. They may be able to avoid a courier or a postman. They have reckoned without the invasiveness of information technology. [defendant] in particular does not seem to have cottoned on to the fact that when somebody calls him and he responds, details can be obtained from in-phone apps and services, and these are very hard to either obscure or disguise. There are email exchanges. There are message exchanges. None of these to my mind establishes that the Defendants are not adequate…… “
The above mentioned is a firm response of the court to a flawed tactic that the defendants in a copyright infringement suit played to avoid the service of summons issued against them. And the court identifies the modern means of service as an effective remedy to overcome similar bearings.
A CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVE
We have 24 high courts and more than three thousand District and Taluk court complexes. The judge to population ration is not even near to a balance, that literally means one judge for many millions. As per information from e –Court services India, the total number of pending cases cross more than 4 million in High Courts and more than 26 million in various District and Taluk courts collectively. These disturbing statistics are really a burden to our entire legal and court systems. Money, matter and minutes of the State and the individual are being mercilessly pledged in this bewildering scenario.
The growth rate and progress of a country is definitely linked with the adaptability and performance of its courts and allied institutions. And a punctured court system will always paint black in every development index in which a country is competing. The effective implementation of technology can to an extent reduce the gravity of the present context.
In a case that demands urgent interim action, justice may only be dispensed when the court acts freely within the ambit of law considering the material facts and circumstances, avoiding the yardsticks of judicial orthodoxy. In these times when most people have smart phones armed with 4G technology, e-service will be an effective and viable option.